Android: What to Look for When Purchasing an Android Device

 

AL And P

As audio professionals we are always looking for new ways to enhance our audio lives an example of this is latest technology to accompany us while on-the-go. That may come in the form of the latest media capable smartphone. Most audio and video professionals opt for a device running iOS as (out-of-the-box) it is optimized for audio and video production. Some folks are fans of Android and hence the reason for this article.

iOS and Android are currently the most popular mobile operating systems on the market. Both iOS and Android are based on the rock solid foundation of Unix/Linux powering many devices from smartphones to tablets. iOS gets updates directly from Apple when they come out thus enabling the majority of iOS devices to remain secure. Apple does not allow third parties to have any control over its platform, which is excellent for both Apple and the consumer. This is not the case with most Android devices.

With Android, manufacturers are the gatekeeper for their respective devices. The current hierarchy is: Google -> Smartphone Manufacturer -> Customer.

If you bought your phone from a carrier, such as T-Mobile, AT&T etc the hierarchy is: Google -> Smartphone Manufacturer -> Carrier -> Customer.

In other words, when Google has released a security patch for their Android operating system, the manufacturer then decides whether or not their respective devices will receive the update. This is a serious problem as it means that many devices will be left venerable to hacks and exploits.

To add to this problem many manufacturers/carriers still produce and sell low-cost Android devices running out-dated software (as old as Android 4.2.2 JellyBean) and with no chance of upgrading. It is this phenomenon that has led the term known as Android fragmentation.

Today, I show you how to have your cake and eat it. Today, I’ll show you what to look for and what to buy.

Why You Should be Concerned About Security

Outdated devices provide a nest for hackers to thrive. Compromised apparatus enable them to gain full control. Once the device has been compromised hackers will be able to read your SMS messages, access, send and receive emails on your behalf from your device among other things. Hackers can activate your device’s camera and microphone thus enabling them to view or listen in on conversations/sessions taking place while in use or at that location. Stored financial information can be obtained and used for malicious purposes. It is therefore critical to maintain a secure and up-to-date device. Do Not Compromise!

What to Look For

  1. Only purchase devices running the latest version of Android (Android 7 Nougat at the time of writing)
  2. Only purchase devices from manufacturers with a reputation for updating their respective devices on time.
  3. Opt to purchase devices running Pure Android. You will thank me. Many manufacturers believe they are doing their brand justice by customizing every last detail of the OS and installing irremovable software that provides duplicate functionality of the features already present in Android but the truth is this just causes more bugs, more bloat, weaker performance and an overall inconsistent experience. I’m not asking, It is a fact! Over-customization also makes it a lot more difficult for the manufacturer to release device updates on time as new updates released by Google have to be tested against their customizations before they are pushed to their devices.
  4. Look for devices based on Qualcomm processors. They are currently the most compatible, secure, and stable processors on the market for use with Android devices. In addition when you device becomes obsolete you will have a better chance of installing a third party ROM such as Lineage OS to keep your device up-to-date.
  5. The device should have at least 2 GB of RAM and 16GB storage space.
  6. Purchase your devices online, carrier unlocked and directly from the manufacturer.

What to Buy

The Pixel line replaces the Nexus line as a premium set of devices made by Google running Pure Android. Pixel devices are made by Google so their is no 3rd wheel in the picture. Updates from Google will always come to these devices first. The Pixel line promises to provide “the best Android has to offer”.

* The Honor 5x was and still is one of the best Android phones made at any budget. It has a great sounding audio chip onboard, looks beautiful, has a premium aluminum build and has solid specs. It is based on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 processor and can be flashed to run the latest version of LineageOS. In order to install LineageOS you will need to unlock the boot loader which will require an understanding of ADB/Fastboot and third party software (to obtain the boot loader code). Once that is done you will have a usable device running the latest version of Pure Android.

If you stick to the devices on this list you should have no problems in the security and stability department. You will have an Android phone as Google intended. Clean, pure and free from all the junk that manufacturers and carriers love to put on their devices.

– Alexander Lindo

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Install Reaper on Ubuntu

 

InstallRprUbProfessional audio has always been synonymous with the Mac operating system but has never really gained much traction on the Linux platform. This has been due to the shared laziness of software developers to code for Linux platform. While this seems to change on a daily basis, it still proves to be a form of hindrance. Companies such as Bitwig plan to release a native Linux version of their upcoming DAW right from the start (said to be shipping on the 26th of March 2014). Currently we have Ardour 3 with native support for Mac and Linux and Tracktion 5 with native support for Ubuntu Linux in beta phase. Cockos the creators of the Reaper Digital Audio Workstation have been said to be working on a native Linux version of their software which has yet to be seen. I have therefore compiled the following to illustrate how to conduct a successful install of Reaper 4 for Windows on Ubuntu Linux 13.10.

Install the KX Studio Repositories

Open a terminal window (Ctrl + Alt + T) and enter the following (line by line).

 Add the KXStudio repositories (press ‘Enter’ once asked)

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kxstudio-debian/kxstudio

 Update the Apt software sources

sudo apt-get update

 Install the KXStudio repositories

sudo apt-get install kxstudio-repos

 Update Apt software sources once again

sudo apt-get update

Install Applications

Open the Software Center and install the following:

  • cadence
  • wine-rt (Wine patched for realtime audio)
  • wineasio (i386) (The Wine driver that communicates with JACK)
  • indicator-cpufreq (An applet that sits in system tray above to allowing you to optimize processor for audio playback. This is done by selecting “Performance”)
  • gnome-system-tools (Program you’ll use to add yourself to the “audio” group)
  • Note: You may be unable to find the packages above after you’ve just added the KXStudio repositories. Be patient as they will arrive shortly.

When you are done with the above, visit http://reaper.fm to download and install the latest 32bit binary.

Now it is time to register the WineASIO Driver

Register WineASIO

From a Terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T) window enter the following:

regsvr32 wineasio.dll wine64 regsvr32 wineasio.dll

Close the terminal window, restart your PC and log in. Now you should be able to run Reaper.

Open Cadence to start the JACK server

Cadence1

  • Under “System > System Status > CPU Scaling Governor >” select “ondemand” and change it to “performance” This will disable CPU Scaling and thus keep it alert at all times (very important to avoid xruns). Under “System Checks” You should have a check mark beside “User in audio group” if not open Gnome System Settings to add yourself to the audio group. The same can be done by opening a terminal window and entering the following command: usermod -a -G audio alex
  • “alex” being replaced by your user name.

Now under JACK statues press Configure which will bring up the following window. CadenceJ Jack Configure

  • Select your Input and Output device, Sample Rate and Buffer Size here. Hit OK.
  • Now start the JACK server.

reaperaudioprefs.jpg Open up Reaper

  • Go to Options > Preferences > Audio > Device and under Audio select ASIO.
  • Under ASIO Driver select WineASIO Driver, your audio inputs and outputs should appear in the window similar to to the one in the screenshot above, if not you may have to revisit the “Register WineASIO” topic above.
  • Once you’re done hit OK.
  • Now you should be ready to go. Please note that the performance of Reaper under Wine will not be as snappy to that of Reaper running natively on a Mac. If you have a fairly decent PC it shouldn’t appear at all that sluggish.

 Fix Wine Maximize Window Flaw

  • Install CompizConfig Settings Manager (compizconfig-settings-manager)
  • Launch it and open Window Decoration setting and in the Decoration Windows field, delete the existing rule “any”, then enter !state=maxhorz & !class=wine without parenthesis of course.
  • If you got that right, your wine app titlebar should no longer appear when the application is maximized and it will be shown back when you unmaximized it.

Alexander Lindo is a singer-songwriter, producer, audio engineer, technology enthusiast, Apple Certified Pro and Pro Tools Certified Operator. If you enjoyed this article don’t forget to like me on Facebook, follow me on TwitterGoogle Plus. When you are done, please check out my music. Thank you for your continued support. For more details on Reaper, visit reaper.fm and you can find out more about KXStudio at kxstudio.sourceforge.net